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IFA 2009: Philips Press Conference

Gordon Kelly


IFA 2009: Philips Press Conference

Philips' turn and the company is singing from the same hymn sheet as everyone else: it has been a tough year, so Philips has a revolutionary plan to develop a new market to reinvigorate consumers. Any guesses what that might be?

Surprise! It's interactive TV. Well actually no, it is 3D but Philips began with the former and it is focused around the phenomenal Cinema 21:9. Interactive TV is essentially an all encompassing buzz phrase for the home cinema experience and Philips will twin the ‘BDP9100' Blu-ray player with the Cinema 21:9 as it has 16:9 to 21:9 image processing and bespoke subtitle positioning to take best advantage of that currently unique aspect ratio. It also aims to give its Net TV integrated video player an extra push this year as viewers spend increasingly more time in front of their PCs and less staring at the goggle box.

Also aimed at enticing viewers back to their TVs is the company's third generation Ambilight technology which it gave a first public airing to today. The LED edge lighting will now sport even more LEDs (250 in total), respond faster to screen colour changes and yet require a thinner bezel s well as allowing Ambilight TVs to be slightly thinner. The new generation will get its first run out in an imminent refresh of its Ambight range which will begin at 42 inches and feature 1080p display, 100Hz refresh rates and a whopping five HDMI ports. WiFi and Ethernet are also built in along with the aforementioned Net TV.

But enough stalling, onto the 3D! Philips has used IFA 2009 to create a 3D Cinema 21:9 prototype. Yes, prototype - as with other manufacturers this year 3D is very much a concept technology with roll out not expected until mid 2010. What Philips does reveal is it is working on 3D effects both with and without 3D glasses which will be "ready when consumer demand is raised" - ie, not yet. Philips also says it is waiting for a universal 3D industry standard to be adopted before it rolls out retail 3D HDTVs

"The technology is ready, but the content is not there yet," said Philips Consumer Lifestyle CEO Andrea Ragnetti. "It has to be based on what consumers really want and currently it is not clear if consumers actually want to wear glasses to watch TV or want it without." A fair point. Ragnetti revealed Philips is working on a prototype 3D Blu-ray player in conjunction with major film studios as it tries to push for a standard.

Ragnetti also addressed OLED, admitting "It may be the ultimate solution moving from Full HD to Quad HD, 4x more resolution and {when ready} we would aim to combine that with 3D technology".

Blu-ray players - There is a new flagship Blu-ray player on the way in the shape of the BDP9500, which adds a more powerful processor for faster performance and gets a design overhaul, the midrange BDP7500 and entry level BDP3000 (pictured). For those looking for a more connected solution, the descriptive ‘Philips Soundbar with Ambisound' (above with the new Ambilight bezel) will arrive next month for integrated Surround Sound, Blu-ray playback and an iPod dock.

And if all this sounds too much an impending ‘Wireless HDTV Link' will connect HDTVs to AV components without wires.

On the MP3 player side of things we get the ‘Go Gear Muse', a new model Philips has created to please audiophiles. ‘FullSound' is the proprietary tech behind it and Philips claims this will mean a natural bass boost without volume pumping and active noise cancelling to reduce ambient noise by up to 90 per cent.

We also get the rather fetching ‘Cushion Speaker' which combines a laptop rest to guard against the painfully common thigh burning sensation created by most laptops with a beefier speaker for upgrading its sound.

Healthy living? Yep, unlike many of the other consumer electronics manufacturers here Philips is a dab hand here too. We'll skip the toothbrushes and so forth, but what was interesting is Philips' second generation Wake-up light which dramatically cuts down the footprint of its predecessor. Another is a portable blue light which addresses those affected with Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. Traditionally SAD treatments are restricted to large panels, but this should change all that.

All in all, well done Philips. Low on theoretical hype and high on actual products - what a concept!

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